Garbage Bags and US Foster Kids

Did you know it is estimated that the average foster child moves an average of seven times before the age of 18.

Did you know that when a social worker arrives to pick up a foster child to move them to a new home, they bring a black, plastic garbage bag for the child to put his or her possessions in?

Did you know that foster children have very few of their own personal possessions?

You can help make a difference.


Black garbage bags and foster kids

Interesting, this is the same tag line my International Adoption fed me some 5 years ago as to why I shouldn't adopt a child from the US foster care. This plus the kids are screwed up, parents are drug addicts, etc.,
Not all have garbage bags, many have suit cases.
Not all foster children are screwed up.
Not all foster children, don't fit in

Let's start by taking the labels off of children in the US foster care.

Dad I think I get what you are trying to do and Anon I agree

The suit case thing really didn't work well in most places as there was no place to store them, etc...  and many places started using these really cool boxes....

me, having grown up in West Virginia, we used trash bags all the time when we went on vacation or to camp, so maybe it is just a social/culture issue thing...

but I fostered for 5 years and most of the time the only time the kids belongings were transported in trash bags was when they first came into care....

usually if they were moved again their stuff was put in boxes, like you know when anyone moves.....

sadly many times the kids are moved not over foster parent issues, but because of dumb ass social workers....  or a kid needing more help and the dumb ass social worker just decides to move the kid in hopes of finding a foster parent who won't care how the kid acts....

I only had one kid moved from my home at my request,  he was 5, he was constantly sexually abusing his 4 year old and 1 1/2 year old sisters....  really badly... parents did get convicted of sexual abuse....

other kids returned home, had two who stayed short term and were moved when a black home had room for them....  not at my request, nor the children's... 

system is messed up

had one boy go home to dad with a bunch of stuff in boxes, came back into care 2 weeks later with nothing :( 

and on another note, most of what actually in my case the 16 children I had in my care came with could not be used, etc...  I'd say most really came with nothing; others came with stuff they could not wear. one girl was 4 and never owned a pair of underwear; even had a kid for short term who didn't have shoes in the middle of winter....  they usually give clothing fund when the children are first placed....

but it is nice people want to do good I guess.

1 out of 50 or approx 1.5 million American children homeless

Look at the state and nation figures, it is staggering. Maybe 2010 we can all resolve to take the word "homeless" out of the English dictionary and start with improvements at home?

The whole purpose of what

The whole purpose of what this person is trying to do is HELP...let's not forget that. Stop being so sensitive to the imperfections that you feel are in what is written and focus on the positive thing this person is attempting to do. It is people like you that focus on the negative that you fail to see the positive. Who cares if what is written in not totally accurate....the fact that they are trying to do something positive is the point. Have a Happy New Year.

Helping the hurt

I dunno.... I'm not sure how I'd feel if I were in foster care, bouncing from one place to another (for whatever reason), and out of the blue, I got the news that  I received a new dufflebag with a teddy bear in it.  I'd be lying if I said something like that wouldn't hurt and feel somewhat insulting.  Sure, intellectually I would know someone sent it because they wanted to let me know they cared, but in my mind... in my heart... I'd be thinking, "If people really cared, stop sending me from place to place -- let me settle-in, be safe, and for God's sake, let me keep my friends!"

Rather than nit-pick on whether a dufflebag makes a good gift for a foster kids, I think there's an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.  Personally, I really can't stand it when people use the line, "We were only trying to help".  Sometimes "helping" does more psychological or physical harm than good.  Consider the person who is trying to feed a starving child candy because the child needs something to eat.  Sure the child would like something sweet, but given all the options out there, is something sugar-coated really going to do much good?

Just because someone's intentions are good doesn't mean what they are doing doesn't hurt.  I know in my own life, lots of times, misguided help caused more damage than I wanted to handle.

I can appreciate a kid wanting to send a positive message to foster kids.  But folks, think like an adult.  People want to help children in crappy foster care?  Show kids horrible foster-care living conditions are unacceptable -- don't send something that sends the message, "Live with it".

The road to hell...

Just because someone's intentions are good doesn't mean what they are doing doesn't hurt.

Or doesn't just outright cause more harm.

Random Acts of Simple Kindness

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

So ends the story.  Or does it?

A crowd of sunbathers had gathered nearby and were watching the young man during his dance on the beach.

"How dare you throw those starfish back in the ocean!" exclaimed one of them.  "You are interfering in the natural selection process.  By throwing those starfish back in the surf, you're dooming hundreds more to a slow painful death.  Let nature take it's course or the blood of future beached starfish will be on your hands, young man."

Another sunbather muttered, "If you really cared, young man, why aren't you putting efforts into the real source of the problem: pollution in our oceans.  Your small and rather meaningless gesture is an afront to those working on the bigger better most highly important cause of beached starfish.  Your time and energy are better spent doing something else."

A third sunbather chimed in, "What if those starfish didn't want to be saved, young man?  How do you know they weren't depressed and had intentionally beached themselves?  Who are you to play God and deny them their chosen destiny?"

"Yes," exclaimed yet another.  "You're acting like a friggin' do-gooder with a savior complex to me.  Those starfish would have been better off if you had done nothing at all, young man.  Besides, how would you actually behave on a private beach without us sunbathers around to observe you.  Pass me a cold beer."

Sadly discouraged, the young man stopped dancing in the sand and walked off the beach slowly with his head hung low.  The older wise man rejoined him with words of encouragement, remembering how inspired he was by the young man's simple act of kindness before his encounter with the sunbathers.

If you don't like duffel bags and stuffed animals for foster kids instead of trash bags, then simply don't contribute.  I had no idea a simple kind gesture from one child to another would evoke this much animosity.  I'm sorry I posted it here.



If you don't like duffel

If you don't like duffel bags and stuffed animals for foster kids instead of trash bags, then simply don't contribute.  I had no idea a simple kind gesture from one child to another would evoke this much animosity.  I'm sorry I posted it here.


I am reminded of a story myself Dad...

There is a man walking threw the allyways... and he encouters a police officer, the police officer stops him and says "Excuse me can I see you ID please?

The man says to the police officer "I just took a short cut I have not done anything wrong. Why do you need my ID"

The police officer responds "Cause that is my job" The man pulls out his ID and starts to show the police officer and just as he does he looks behind the police officer and see's a man braking into a car. He says to the police officer "See now look at the guy stealing that car!!!

The police officer turns around looks for a second and says "Yeah so?" 

The man stunned in disbelief and says "And your just gonna let him?"

The cops says "Yep" and continues to call his name in for a check.

The man furious at this moment says "I am not a criminal that guy is and your harassing me I mean i never even come threw this area of town?"

The cop looks at him and says "That's funny I am here everyday"

The man frothing at the mouth says "Your just going to let him steal that car just so you can bully me?"

Finally the cops looks at the "Man and says see since your not here everyday you wouldn't know that man as I do..... he locks his keys in his car at least once a week."


It's not so much a story.... as an experience I had with a police officer...


What I am saying is... if you don't have experience in something day in and day out it's impossible to look at something shortly and think you have some idea vs the guy who is there every day...

 For a kid to be trying to help kids that is great but I find it a bit disturbing how people think it's normal.. and want to help make it easier by giving them lugage instead of garbage bags... and it shows how far gone we adults are when we think something like that is a great idea.


As far as teddybears.. go.. I wouldn't bother...

My 1st day in a grouphome.. I was beat up.. had my life long teddy buddy taken from me set on fire (while I was getting beaten up) and noone cared less.

Getting teddybears in care will set some kids up for some harsh reality checks...

See I live it everyday... you did not... I hope you understand Dad... People can be a bit harsh... myself included.. but look at where we are coming from...


Ooh! Such....animosity!!


I liked your post thank you

I liked your story. Peace.

Not all have garbage bags,

Not all have garbage bags, many have suit cases.
Not all foster children are screwed up.
Not all foster children, don't fit in

I didn't even get a garbage bags all that many times... I got safeway bags (grocery)

No most of us are. We just fail to see it....even I myself am messed up...

None of us fit in...We are treated by other families when we go to play at their house like we are infected with something... as soon as they find out were are from the care system...
I am unable to relate to anyone but those in foster care long term.. even the ones who were in and out...
I don't fit in anywhere...

Wait your right... we fit in.... in jail!

It's not labels... that is the consequences of a corrupt heartless system run by the laziest, stupid people on the planet!

Labeling us is saying we were all abused and needed the systems help. That is giving us a labble as 99.9% of kids in care are from poor families... hummm wonder why that is? Humm lables... give me a break...

If foster care didn't exist I would not have been raped for years on end... I would have known how to read and write as a kid... I'd have had family.. my sister would be alive and I would be able to sleep more then a few hours at a time...

The fact it exists is the worst reflection of the people who pay their governments to fund it!

Nuthing will change that not for me or for other kids... but if it is shut down...and those who run it locked up... and rebuilt from the ground up we could at least try to stop it from happening to others instead of standing around watching saying "those poor kids, they need a suitcase"
Fucking idiots!


Both my children came with several garbage bags filled with their belongings when first placed in our home (age 5).  Most of their possessions were hand-me-down clothes which have long since been discarded.  There were also a few toys - most of which were broken or in pieces.

My son also brought a stuffed animal named "Moppy" which was sadly appropriate.  Moppy looked like the business end of a dirty mop with a couple of eyes stitched on near the top.  We were told Moppy came from foster home #3 (he was placed for adoption from foster home #5).

For the first year in our home, my son slept with Moppy, ate with Moppy, carried Moppy to the bathroom, and took Moppy on trips both short and long.  Moppy was the one constant thing in his short life and he protected him like he was a younger sibling.  Moppy continued to fall apart over the years but that didn't seem to matter to my son.

I think (not sure) he was about 11 or 12 when he finally decided to let Moppy go.


what a load of shit

this got me pissed. real nice message to send a kid in foster care. 'our system is so fucked-up, you'll be needing a small piece of luggage to keep your sorry ass moving'. i can just picture all these white assholes sitting around their big houses with trees in their backyards and grills on their decks stroking themselves feeling good because they did something nice for poor trashy foster kids. yea, like what a foster kid really needs is new luggage. like that's supposed to be classy or something. it's bullshit. anyone ever gave me that shit, i'd show them how i wanted to use it. if i'm homeless and living with crap, let me carry my fucking garbage bags. at least it's honest and i'm not pretending anything.
come on johhny, time to move to a new shithole. wait! i almost forgot my new fancy luggage some white bitch sent me because she cares!

trying to help-luggage vs. love

Agreed that our foster care system is a screwed up mess, it is a far cry better than it was 60 years ago when the USA still had orphanages. Foster care is just a way of outsourcing this to the community, the problem being it is harding to enforce or watch over all of these foster homes. Many of these Foster Homes give loving care and support----however many do not. This is not a perfect world but when dealing with our children we should strive to make it important.
While we have some good intention people that feel their talents should be used in other countries to improve some 3rd world nation's foster care/adoption system----they have been naive or ignorant to the many needs in their own country. Frankly, it isn't my job to care for the worlds problems with how they take care of their children, but it is my job and my responsibility to try and correct our flawed system within the USA.
PPL has done an excellent job exposing the many cases of US foster care deaths, their photos haunt me when I look at them. Our government (us) has failed these children as their legal guardians.
Just the other day an agency in Oregon adopted a child out to a distant relative in Mexico only to have the child dead within a year in Mexico without any kind of monitoring. If this family in Mexico was recieving any kind of state benefits from Oregon to care for this child, this is not only murder but it is theft from our state system.
Maybe we should go back to state run orphanages where we could monitor the children and the care a little more closely?

less removals, more care

The best we can do for children in foster care is to make sure they are not needlessly removed in the first place. Far too many children are being removed for political reasons. When a child dies due to child abuse, Child Protective Services tend to become overzealous in their removal practices. A practice called "erring on the side of the child", as if removing a child is not damaging. Institutional care is still over-used in several states (most blatantly in Michigan). Institutions receive per diems for each child in their care, so as long as the organizations spend less money per day than they receive, they actually make a profit (or executive's bonus in a non-profit setting). These practices keep many more children in care than is actually needed or in the best interest of the child.

The foster care population could be reduced significantly, when only used for children that really need it. If that can be achieved, foster care organizations can spend more time and effort keeping the good foster families and getting rid of the bad ones.

It would also be helpful if the entire notion of permanency would be eliminated from the social work dictionary. By defining foster care as temporary, a mindset is created in which it is okay to place foster children home after home. The reality is that many, mostly older foster children, will never be adopted, will never find a permanency. Defining foster care as temporary and second rate, not enough efforts are made to improve the system for those children that will need that support until they are old enough to stand on their own two feet.

Solving on-going problems

Some random thoughts here....

Foster care was created because care in public and private run orphanages was so very poor and dangerous.  Yes... private foster care was to be a solution to bad state care.

People found out foster care had it's dangers, too.

Adoption was created because many people believed children should be removed from bad parents, "permanently".  ["Bad", meaning anything from having sex before marriage, being an alcoholic, being physically abusive... "bad" could simply mean a person follows "the wrong" political beliefs.]

People are finding out adoption has all it's hidden dangers, too.

The only thing that seems permanent within the care-system is danger and carelessness.

less removals, less care

I think you have something here. Instead of all these agencies in Indiana and Illnois suing the state for lack of payments to the care of all the children. I would also like to see more checks and balances of how this state money is used for the children or education of the foster / adoptive parents.
Taking ongoing classes/workshops with the parents and together with the kids could be a start. This could be used as a monitoring element as well.
It's a start, money is always an issue. But surely the state would save money if the foster care or fost to adopt system was more efficient and worked for the benefit of the child and not the caretaker or state.

Grabageman your my

Grabageman your my hero!!!!

Ha ha great post!!!!

Are you serious?

Do people honestly think sending new luggage to foster kids is going to make foster care better? Please tell me this idea is a joke.

why foster care started and keeps going on

actually folks one of the big reasons foster care started was even back then as in present day it was way less costly to give some poor person a few dollars to watch a kid in their home than pay way more in a group setting....

basic rate foster care for a child under 5 when I began to foster 14 years ago was $235 per month....  day care even at the time cost $115 a week....  gee what a savings

now a days teen care is $666 per month; it cost them $18,000 per month to house my son in his group home wow foster care is a saving of $17,334 per month over group care...

and sadly funding have a lot to do with why some kids are not given in home services and instead placed into care, because money for foster care is there, while money for treatment for the parents is not

but they got money to pay adoptive parents in our state for parent training.... one lady in our state got $100,000 of parent training (being held on an air mat by a RAD cult leader) in 2007... 

not finding the documentation today

to back up my statements....  can't remember where exactly I read that; that one of the reasons foster care started and became so wide spread in the USA was to say money (and it does over group care)

but one report I found that was interesting was

charting the growth of social services in the USA... one of the more recent cost saving additions to federal law has been adoption sub started in the 1980... now you to remember that people like say Jim Jones of Jonestown was already collecting foster kids for the money (both foster payments and the SSI check they can get for most)

but there are many other examples of children being mis-treated over the adoption sub and what come with it  girl that died from adoption sub therapy girls that were killed, placed in freezer, mom still cashed their adoption sub check,,20145338,00.html lady that placed kids in orphanage in Africa and still collect their checks
then the kids in the cages in Ohio, the Jackson boys, and on and on....  all abused at least in part because of adoption sub
And were all orphanges all that bad?  Boys Town was supposed to be a good place.  Kids could leave there with a future; sadly in current modern day foster care most kids living can't do anything but collect an SSI check; they can't even join the military because the system places them on psych-drugs that make then unable to join the military
messed up system....

"foster care most kids

"foster care most kids living can't do anything but collect an SSI check; they can't even join the military because the system places them on psych-drugs that make then unable to join the military"

You forgot to mention most long term foster kids are so messed in the head they have to go on disability..... (Well here in Canada anyways) Strangely the government is actually giving it to people.

Wait hold on... Did anyone catch that? Stereotypical comments by us....

I love being talked about like I am not even here.

I make video games do webhosting...and run a computer repair shop from my house. Only for the poor.

The rich can go get ripped off at computer shops like future shop who charges 200% more then they should for even just slapping in a ram stick in your pc.... they deserve it.

Be careful how you categorize us...

I wouldn't join the military for a few reasons.. their drugs I was feed wouldn't affect my entry...

All the pain and suffering I went threw... i would not join the military and inflict it upon others... and the military does just that...paid killers.. I remember watching a video where the military's peons where shooting people in the streets and shooting rockets at cars.. the whole while you can hear them in the background talking laughing..
It was just like having people over to my house to play Call of Duty... right after that video I threw out all my war games..

They don't want us in the military for multiple reasons... being a bit deranged is encouraged in the military... foster kids make the perfect soldier (no morals no ethics no sense of right and wrong) It would seem we would fit in perfectly from the video I watched... Sadly... not a good idea to put a gun in a ex-foster kids hands... the government would not like where/who  we would point it at...

In the state foster care is

In the state foster care is in anything will help make it better. But I do agree. I was moved so many times... grouphome to foster home to group home to foster home.
It was messed. Then once I turned 14 it was grouphomes to jails and back and forth.
 Why jail?

I was being starved by this one foster parent Daine Borthwick who was using us foster kids to fund her lawsuit against a drunk driver who killed her husband... So I stole food... and got my first record and probation...
With the following stipulations
1)keep the peace yadda yadda yadda
2)Don't drink or do drugs (Which I did not then)
3) Live where a YOA director says. (Youth offender advocate A,K,A youth probation officer)

Of course when I ran it was a breach.... and more conditions would be added.

By the time I was 16 when I ran I would get breach X25 I shit you not. I didn't own anything. I had nuthing.. and all my stuff as a kid was put in garbage bags every time... then in jail my stuff went into garbage bags...

The similarities almost seem as if I was being groomed to be a criminal...

Dad means well. And I am sure the site does as well.

But myself I find that site and idea behind absolutely offensive and just ignorant.

It be like creating a site in the slave days and asking for ankle chains for them...

Every day I ask myself...

"There is no way I can be human like these people around me WTF man...?"

Survival, theft of food

I cannot believe in this day and age someone would get jail time or a criminal record for stealing food! That is insane!
But then Jean Val Jean was tormented his whole life for stealing a loaf of bread. (Les Miserables)

The people who lock up kids for stealing food are the true criminals!

A correction: "It be like

A correction:
"It be like creating a site in the slave days and asking for ankle chains for them.."

 It should have read :
"It be like creating a site in the slave days and asking for padding for the ankle chains for them...

Trust me I spent from the age of 14 to 23 wearing ankle chains off and on. So i can make that statement quite legitimately...

I still can't grow hair there anymore.. looks so strange... a bald line in the middle of my ankle hair.. it's almost embarrassing... I can't even wear sandals or go bear foot.... with shorts..

(No subject)

In the spirit of giving to those who need it most...

I appreciate Dad's effort, bringing awareness to the needs of kids in foster care, so I thought I'd add my own links for others to look into.

Mentoring programs have been known to be real life-savers for those who have no supportive helping-hand.  [See:  Milena's mentor stays on the case ]

For those interested, please read Mentoring for Youth in Foster Care, and go to  for more information and links.  There are thousands of kids needing help moving-on with their lives. 

I do know something about this

I do know something about this very issue. I grew up in foster care. I lived in fourteen different foster homes, and two group homes before I was emmancipated at the age of 16. Out of those sixteen places, I moved to only one place with my things packed in anything but a black plastic trash bag. I am not sure what has changed in the system now. I have been out for eleven years. But one thing I do know, giving foster children luggage is a VERY good gesture. This is coming from someone who GREW UP in this system.

When my things were packed in trash bags, it sent a very clear message. That my things were not valuable, and I figured, if my things were not valuable than neither was I. I obviously do not see it that way now, but as a child, I didn't have clarity in my thoughts. I literally thought that trash was about what my life amounted to and that is what the trash bags reinforced.

I am not saying that a duffle bag will fix a childs life. The trash message is sent to these children long before it is reinforced by trash bags. That is the truth. But dont underestimate what a small kind gesture can do. and on a last note, the trash bags hold such a connotation in my heart that I dont use them now. I use paper bags or put my trash directly in the dumpster because the trash bags remind me of that pain. Make fun of me or not, but that is the reality.

Just thought I would give the input of someone who has actually been through what you all are arguing about in a kind of a stupid manner considering you were not foster children yourselves. Don't presume to know how someone feels unless you actually do.

And to the person who wrote the original post. Thank you for caring.

Pound Pup Legacy